Weekly Update: How we're working to grow Memphis


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This is our time in Memphis.

We must no longer accept the status quo.

That’s part of what I told the Rotary Club of Memphis when I visited its weekly meeting Tuesday. It was an economic development and growth-themed speech, focusing on what we’re doing to make sure Memphis is poised to reverse our years-long trend of population loss.

As I said in our State of the City speech in January, our administration’s vision for a prosperous third century will be guided by building up, not building out. It will be guided by investing in our core and our neighborhoods.

Today at City Hall, we are:

  • Placing major emphasis on workforce development, where we have a great opportunity ahead of us — the first-in-the-nation free community and technical college afforded to Tennesseans.
  • Recruiting jobs from across the country, and exploring an increased focus on having a fast-answer office or person in City government to work quickly with prospective companies on infrastructure needs.
  • Continuing our head-turning work with minority businesses, where we saw a 60 percent increase in City contracting in our first fiscal year. Black Enterprise magazine has called Memphis the No. 1 city in the U.S. for black business.
  • Rebuilding our infrastructure, including yet another increase in street paving and a Memphis-first approach with our sewer system.
  • Planning for our growth with Memphis 3.0, the first comprehensive planning process for Memphis since 1981.

Those are just summaries, too. You can read the speech in full here, or watch a video of it here.

Truth is, we can prioritize public safety while we also plan for a more prosperous future. We can invest in our kids while also keeping the tax rate low and running an efficient government. We can pave streets while we also pave a pathway for equity and opportunity for every single Memphian.

This is our time in Memphis: Not merely to end population loss — but to reverse it. Not merely to stand still, but to hit the accelerator. This is our time in Memphis — where growth is more a part of our civic vocabulary than just getting by. And where our collective vision of a prosperous and growing third century dictates all we do.

About that blight plan: You may have seen an article this week that outlined a proposed framework of a plan from Public Works to attack blight in our city. A couple of things I wanted to share about that:

  1. This is a framework, and it’s far from set in stone. There has been some conversation about the idea that we’d fine people for leaving trash cans out, but understand that this means empty trash cans. If the trash can is on the curb because we failed at our job to pick up that day, that’s on us.
  2. This initiative is more about our broader plans to fight blight, which I think we all agree is a worthwhile place to spend our energy. I’m eager to work on the plan to make sure it will achieve those goals without being an undue burden on citizens.

Summer in Memphis: There’s plenty to do in Memphis this summer, which is why we annually publish the “Summer in Memphis” guidebook to let young people know of all the opportunities. I encourage you to share this with a young person you know.

Also, it's worth knowing that signups for our Explore Memphis summer reading program begin Monday. You can register at any Memphis library branch.

Bike share is coming: Take note Wednesday, when Explore Bike Share — a privately financed venture — launches 60 stations and some 600 bikes in Downtown, Orange Mound, Midtown and South Memphis. You can learn more about how to ride here.

Some of our great corporate and philanthropic citizens are effectively giving this as a gift to our city. To all of them, I say this: Thank you. Your efforts to make Memphis better are appreciated every day.

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